|The Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD)
The Specific Carbohydrate diet is a strict grain-free, lactose-free, and sugar-free diet. The theory behind the
diet is that damaged intestinal walls and bacterial overgrowth are causing harm to body's health and immune
system. The diet restricts the type of carbohydrates that feed these bacteria, therefore restoring the body's
internal environmental maintenance. The diet was designed for patients with intestinal diseases alone, but has
recently come into use by parents of children with autism. Research reports indicate that some children do
very well with this regimen.
The SCD diet is more restrictive than GF/CF diet. It eliminates starches, while allowing some sugars, and
consists mainly of meats, poultry, fish, eggs, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds. The diet begins with a
limited number of foods and gradually expands as the intestinal tract heals. There are a number of reasons
this diet makes sense for children with ASD. It is known that gluten and casein sensitivity, leaky gut,
chronic bowel problems, etc are symptoms of a damaged intestinal tract with an overgrowth of pathogenic
bacteria (capable of causing disease) or yeast and a insufficient amount of intestinal flora (harmless
microorganisms that live in the intestinal tract and are essential for its normal functioning).
The SCD diet presumably starves the yeast which causes the susceptibility, and get to the root of the
underlying problem. In addition, when the yeast themselves are starved out direct yeast related problems are
alleviated. If SCD can heal the gut more effectively and restore the function of the intestine, food
sensitivities may resolve, allowing for ample food choices in the future. Better restoration of the barrier
between the gut and the bloodstream appears to reduce behavioral problems, improve sleep, eye contact, and
neurological function in some children. Normal stability of the intestinal tract will often result in
improvement of symptoms.
The SCD diet combats bacterial and yeast overgrowth by restricting the energy they require to live while
keeping the child well fed. This requires eating foods with little or no carbohydrates, or eating foods that
contain simple sugar which are quickly absorbed by the body. This diet calls for strict adherence to obtain
relief from symptoms.
The diet prohibits the following foods:
Sugars: Do not eat sugar, molasses, sucrose, high fructose corn syrup, fructose, or any processed sugar.
Veggies: All canned vegetables are not permitted.
Grains: All grains are not permitted, such as: corn, wheat, wheat germ, barley, oats, rye, rice, buckwheat,
soy, spelt, amaranth, and others. Some legumes are not.
Starchy foods are not permitted, such as: potatoes, yams, and parsnips. Seaweed and seaweed
byproducts, such as agar and carrageenan, are not allowed.
Beans: Chick peas, bean sprouts, soybeans, mungbeans, faba beans, and garbanzo beans.
Meats: All canned meats are forbidden. Most processed meats are not permitted. Make sure processed meat
doesn't contain any harmful additive such as corn, corn products, starch, and sugars.
Dairy: All variations of milk are not allowed: whole, skim, 1%, 2%, chocolate, etc. Some cheeses contain
high lactose content and are restricted: ricotta, mozzarella, cottage cheese, cream cheese, feta, and
processed cheeses and cheese spreads.
Commercial yogurt contains a high amount of lactose and is not allowed. Heavy cream, buttermilk, and sour
cream are not allowed.
Other foods that are not permitted include: bread, pasta, other starchy foods, canola oil, commercial
mayonnaise (because of additives), ice cream, candy, chocolate, carob, whey powder, margarine,
commercial ketchup, stevia, baking powder, commercial nut mixes, and balsamic vinegar.
The diet allows the following foods:
*Quantities are not restricted if you eat a balanced diet
Sugars: Honey is the only allowed sugar product. Not everyone can tolerate it, so use with caution.
Veggies: Most vegetables, fresh or frozen and raw or cooked, are allowed including: asparagus, broccoli,
cauliflower, artichokes, beets, Brussells sprouts, cabbage, carrots celery, cucumbers, eggplant, zucchini,
summer squash, rhubarb, peppers, garlic, lettuce, spinach, mushrooms (unless you have candidiasis),
onions, turnips, and watercress. Be careful of raw vegetables when diarrhea is present.
Legumes: Dried navy beans, lentils, peas, split peas, unroasted cashews, peanuts in a shell, all natural
peanut butter, lima beans, and string beans.
Meats: All unprocessed meats such as: beef, pork, chicken, turkey, quail, ostrich, fish, shellfish, lamb,
venison, rabbit, and eggs. Some processed meats are allowed, but many require writing letters to
manufacturers to verify the absence of restricted foods. Many processed meats contain sugar, starch, corn
products, and other disallowed foods.
Dairy: All natural cheeses except those listed above are allowed: cheddar, Colby, Swiss, havarti, dry curd
cottage cheese, etc. Homemade yogurt that has been turned for a minimum of 24 hours is allowed and
Fruits: Most fruits are allowed such as: avocadoes, apples, tomatoes, olives, apricots, ripened bananas,
coconuts, dates, berries, cherries, citrus fruits, peaches, pears, tropical fruits, and grapes.
Nuts: Almonds, Brazil nuts, walnuts, chestnuts, filberts, and pecans.
The following miscellaneous foods are allowed: olive oil, coconut oil, soybean oil, corn oil, weak tea,
weak coffee, unflavored gelatin, mustard, vinegar, saccharin, and juices with no additives.